From data tragedy to information strategy: Succeeding in the information age

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Evolving from automation to information centricity

The industrial revolution started of by automating the tasks of the workers in order to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. The same principle was applied when the first IT systems where introduced. Their main purpose was to automate a specific business process or activity and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this process or activity. The personal computer assisted calculations and document editing tasks and the ERP systems assisted specific resource planning activities.

Information exchange was often cumbersome and limited to an absolute minimum as the software solutions prime focus was the core task and not the integration or interfaces. A good example of this approach towards integration is the evolution of EDI protocols. Very few companies considered using integrated supply change EDI-item-grammar as their internal storage semantics. For most retailers the EDI is streamlined but then internally mapped to a multitude of different structures that support sales, logistics, marketing etc. This is clearly a missed opportunity for rationalising the complex landscape of the disparate applications.

Not only the information flow is hindered by this approach, as very often the ability to combine a set of activities into a consistent end-2-end workflow was not an objective of the technology solution. Another reason why chain processes such as Purchase to Pay or Order to Cash proves to be difficult.

The strong focus on the automation resulted in application silos that covered the needs of the business process but didn’t consider the consistency of information across the different silo’s. The latter was often not an issue as the companies have often functional silos that fail to recognise the underlying information objects.

As the ERP vendors have levelled the playing field in many industries. The efficiency of the automation is no longer sufficient to obtain a competitive advantage. The software becomes a commodity and people move to a reuse, buy and only then build model. Having efficient automated processes is therefor no longer a key differentiator in most industries.

The focus shifts towards effective and efficient chain processes such as O2C (order to cash), P2P (Purchase to Pay) and more importantly in the context of information management the fact that we can maximise the insight that can be obtained out of the data at hand.

This information centric approach has to battle the years of process focus that led to a data landscape that is primarily application driven. The result is islands of data that don’t align with the information boundaries. Duplication and inconsistencies are often the result. The answer to this challenge is the isolation of the information centric business functions and to expose these independent of any specific business process. The latter is exactly what the current wave of “Master Data Management” software solutions tries to achieve. They either solve the inconsistency issue through cleansing and transformation or they deliver the full set of create, update and delete services.

Even in an information centric model one can expect that a large portion of the business interaction will still be performed from a business process specific point of view: the purchasing department interacts with suppliers and the sales department deals with customers. Often a limited set of functions will understand that the underlying object being a legal entity or natural person is the object that is actually maintained. The true challenge is to identify the added value or risk involved when the link between the customer and supplier viewpoint is ignored by the organisation.

The building blocks for an information centric organisation

An information centric organisation can only be achieved if the data, regardless of it’s appearance, is managed as an asset.
You can’t simply buy technology to instate “information as an asset” as it will require that all stakeholders act according to the relevant information policies. You can’t achieve accuracy and trust if all steps in the information flow don’t provide the required consistency.


Your business strategies suffer from poorly organised information

Proper information management and insights have become a linchpin that acts as a catalyst for the execution of your business strategies. Linking the information assets and the business strategy is the basis of your information strategy. If you can’t define the correlation between improved information management and better insight there won’t ever be a neither business case nor support for your initiative in the organisation. The value of information is very business domain specific as it always originates from the capability to use the information in support of a business function. There are many examples of business functions that benefit from increased information accuracy and trust. The role of the information strategy is to describe the cases where improvements will be beneficial and use this as the primary driver for the investment roadmap. Your Chief Data Officer can fulfil this function. An emerging role in many organisations as information was not necessarily recognised in the past. If it’s unclear how information could generate value you are likely missing the required innovation to make this happen. Rightfully the CDO often also has the mission to focus on innovative ways to monetize data or the increase the benefits obtained from the current data.

Your people underestimate the true value of information

The person creating the data is seldom the one that gets the most value out of it. A lack of common meaning results in broken End-2-End information chains, loss of value and business risk. Business process flows seldom correlate with information life-cycle flows. Not describing the information landscape results in a lack of understanding and lack of consistency in the accuracy requirements. The net result is total lack of trust and several remediation points and a poor operational efficiency.

The information architect would have to make sure we understand the in’s and out’s of the information flows and the relationship with the data stores. This landscape provides fundamental input to the information strategy as the architectural weaknesses become apparent.

Getting people to act according to the global information accuracy and trust objectives is very difficult is they are failing to see the whole picture. Often people don’t handle the information appropriately as there is no apparent need in the context of their own business process.

You lack insight in your current information health

“Think before you act.” The current maturity needs to be taken into account when implementing change. Your approach should be issue centric and is not just copying the book. There is no point in changing for the sake of changing. The baseline of data incidents, quality and general policy compliance is a fundamental starting point for every information strategy. Organisations have the tendency to compensate for their inefficiencies. A formal baseline that is linked to the business benefits is a superb instrument to make the business case visible. When linked to the proper business drivers it also allows monitoring the effectiveness of your information strategy.

Your information is manageable but not sustainable

Every datapoint that is kept is obviously liability. Deciding to maintain information should not be a decision that is taken lightly. Depending on the update frequency it might prove to be expensive of virtually impossible to keep your data consistent with reality. There has to be clear business value when maintaining data. Having the right process, tools and policies to deliver the right quality level is essential for information life-cycle management. Often information management initiatives fail, as the scoping is not done properly. Focus is put on irrelevant datapoints resulting in huge budgets and very late delivery of the benefits. The information strategy needs to focus on the information that can be maintained at a proper accuracy and trust level with a cost that is lower than the benefits. Proper scoping and understanding of the benefits and the information quality decay frequency is the key to a successful information strategy execution.

You only have a hammer

Technology evolves at an amazing speed. Get the time to market and get ROI by using the right tools for the job. What capabilities are you missing? Investing in the right information management capabilities is required to keep the information correct at an acceptable cost and also to drive the necessary innovation that will create the data insight and business value. You information strategy needs therefore a technology capability roadmap angle to achieve the effectiveness that yields business benefits.

The logic should however not be reversed. Assuming that technology is the way out of every information management problem often proves to be the wrong angle.

Jan will present the full information strategy methodology with practical examples and guidelines in the two day seminar “Defining and Executing Your Information Strategy” that is schedule on 25-26 September 2014 and 3-4 March 2015 in London.

December 10, 2014, “Master Data Management in de praktijk”, Adept events

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December 10, 2014
Hotel Lapershoek, Hilversum, Nederland
Workshop: “Master Data Management in de praktijk”

[button url=”” size=”small” scroll_to=”false”]More info and registration[/button]

November 25th 2014, Workshop: “Master Data Management: essentials en best practices”, SAI

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Datum: 25-11-2014 (13:30 – 20:30)
Taal: Nederlands


Master Data Management (MDM) is een term die actueel sterk in de mode is. Deze workshop analyseert de business problemen die het gevolg kunnen zijn van slecht beheerde gegevens en definieert de vereisten om op een coherente manier om te gaan met de informatie binnen de organisatie. Een MDM-oplossing is een absolute ‘must’ wanneer U denkt aan het implementeren van een SOA, wanneer U Uw business intelligence-investeringen wil laten evolueren naar een real-time business intelligence faciliteit, wanneer U meer dan één kant-en-klaar softwarepakket gebruikt, of ook nog wanneer U moet voldoen aan nieuwe governance regels en standaarden. 

In de workshop wordt dieper ingegaan op de componenten waaruit een MDM-platform moet bestaan, en op de volledige implementatie-problematiek. Vele implementaties starten vanuit één deeldomein, zoals ‘customer’, ‘product’ of ‘location’. Daarna worden eventueel extra deeldomeinen aangepakt en geïntegreerd (vandaar dat sommige vendors hun ‘roots’ hebben in ‘customer data integration’ of ‘product data integration’). Overigens zijn er in toenemende mate ‘information management’-leveranciers op de markt die via MDM de overgang maken van infrastructuurleverancier naar echte aanbieder van MDM-oplossingen (zie onder andere de recente acquisities van IBM, Informatica, Oracle en Microsoft).

Wanneer ‘data’ voor U een belangrijke ‘asset’ zijn, dan mag U deze nieuwe SAI-masterclass helemaal niet missen !


1. Inleiding

  • Overzicht van de elementen die nodig zijn voor het ontwikkelen van een ‘enterprise data architecture’ 
  • Omgevingsfactoren en hun invloeden op informatie-architectuur

2. Enterprise Information Management

  • Data governance 
  • Metadata management 
  • Data federatie 
  • Data kwaliteit

3. Master Data Management (MDM)

  • Wat wordt concreet verstaan onder MDM ? 
  • Welke zijn de business voordelen van een MDM-oplossing ? 
  • MDM-voorbeelden 
  • Het inschatten van de noodzaak van een MDM-systeem

4. Het ontwerpen van een MDM-systeem

  • Het bepalen van de scope, van de ‘vocabulary’, van de ‘access services’ en van de ‘business processen’ 
  • Architectuur-opties: ‘registry’, ‘hub’ en ‘enterprise MDM’ 
  • Het ontwikkelen van een ‘shared business vocabulary’ 
  • Master Identity Management. Global Id’s en global foreign keys

5. Het bouwen en implementeren van een MDM-systeem

  • Het bepalen van het MDM-model 
  • Het identificeren van de ‘systems of entry’ en het ontdekken van verbanden tussen de bronnen 
  • ‘Data profiling’ en het creëren van transformatie- en van mapping-regels

6. Een MDM-systeem aanschaffen

  • Compleet MDM-marktoverzicht 
  • Externe ‘master data providers’ 
  • De evaluatie en combinatie van MDM-oplossingen

7. Integratie van een MDM-systeem in een bestaande omgeving

  • Het combineren van een MDM-oplossing in de bestaande ‘Enterprise Information Management’-portfolio 
  • De noodzaak van een MDM ‘change program’ 
  • De invloed op bestaande applicatielogica en de invoering van ‘shared services’ 
  • Consolidatie van de ‘systems of entry’

8. Conclusies en aanbevelingen


Registreer via deze link

February 28th- March 2nd, 2017, Seminar “Managing Your Information Asset”, London

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Three One Day Workshops on Information Strategy, Information Governance and MDM

This workshop is made up of three 1-day workshops:

  • Day 1: Establishing a Sustainable (BIG) Information Strategy
  • Day 2: Information Governance: From Definition to Execution
  • Day 3: Master and Reference Data Management

You can register to attend 1, 2 or 3 days of the workshop.

Can your organisation turn it’s data into revenue and can you sustain the required accuracy and trust levels to maintain compliance and get effective operations?  Most companies are emerging from the age of automation and face the non-trivial task of creating a data driven mind-set that favours fact based decision taken and that uses information centricity to break the organisational silo’s.  Assigning a Chief Data or Analytics Officer next to the Data Protection Officer is not going deliver the value if you don’t have a clearly defined roadmap, strategy, roles and activities to sustain the initiative. Too often innovation neglects the basic fact that being information centric is about the entire organisation and not just an elite group that has the keys to the kingdom.   This 3 day workshop, encompassing three one day workshops on Defining Information Strategy, Information Governance and Master and Reference Data Management will teach you how you can turn your organisation around and make it information centric delivering on the promise of accurate and trusted business information that supports compliance and boosts innovation.


Many studies have indicated that we have evolved from the age of automation to the information age. Proper information management and insights have become a linchpin that act as a catalyst for the execution of your business strategies. Information can be supporting or defining your business model. Having the data in your organisation is not enough as the true value comes from your ability to turn the data into operational information and insights that allow you to create business value and make strategic and tactical decisions. Aligning your information requirements with strategic business objectives is critical.

The information strategy sets the direction but the route is long and winding. Information governance assures the shared meaning, attitudes and capabilities are consistent with the information and insight risk and value.

Increasing operational complexity and data volumes in today’s organisations often result in unacceptable data quality, escalating costs and redundant development efforts. Information governance is a set of processes for the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity and security of the information assets in an enterprise. Thereby ensuring that information and insights can be trusted and that people can be made accountable for any adverse event that happens because of quality or interpretation problems.

Do you recognise that information is a business asset but do you struggle to setup the proper roles, processes and architectural principles to manage the information asset?

This two day seminar and workshop teaches you how you can turn your organisation around and make it information centric delivering on the promise of accurate and trusted business information.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how to engage your business and have them take the lead and recognise the value of information.
  • Learn how to adapt the organisation to make information centric
  • Learn how to establish an information governance organisation
  • Learn how to manage speech communities and business vocabularies
  • Learn how to align your IT with your information strategy
  • Get more value out of your MDM projects
  • Learn how to redefine your Business Intelligence architecture
  • Learn how to get the benefits of Big Data
  • Select the proper Enterprise Information platform to support your information strategy


Jan Henderyckx

VENUE: etc.venues Marble Arch  
Garfield House,
86 Edgware Rd,
London W2 2EA
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7793 4200


Register On-line:

IRMUK Website


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Collibra Thought leader session, 1 September 2013 by JAN HENDERYCKX
This session introduces a practical approach that extends upon the basic definition management and bridges the gap with the content improvement that is badly needed for trusted master data. Managing both the meaning and the representation in a business semantics glossary is a powerful way of implementing this concept. It also explains how to deal with one of the fundamental MDM challenges which is the distinction between the essence of the concept and the functional classification. You will no longer have to struggle with the question if it’s party or supplier and customer.
Managing the business semantics is a core activity to enable business alignment and achieve accurate and trusted information but it’s only an enabler for improved quality of information. The actual content of the master and reference objects will determine if the objective was met. The content governance is therefore an equal contributor to the end result. Solving the representation consistency can only be addressed if there is a clear view on the different semantical views of the master data. Properly addressing the functional classifications is another fundamental building block of MDM.

Listen to the presentation at the Collibra website